Borger High School theater to present ‘Into the Woods’

Madison Huval, left, as the baker’s wife, and Kayleigh Watkins as Cinderella sing a number Monday from “Into the Woods.”  (photo by Tim Howsare)
Tim Howsare

Let’s say you’re new at your job as a theater teacher at Borger High School and you have students who have little or acting experience and want to put on a live production for the public.
You could pick a one-act play with only a half-dozen characters, but that would be too easy.
Instead, you think out of the box — while at the same time being practical.
You want to put on a musical, but that hasn’t been done at BHS for quite a few years, so even the seniors will be rookies.
“Honestly, we looked at our student body and tried to find a good mix for males and females,” said Heather Wallace, who teaches English, debate and advanced theater.
There were not enough male leads in ‘Sweeney Todd.’ So ‘Into the Woods’ was a great fit for our students.”
And then there was the consideration of doing something that will appeal to the Borger public.
“With the production date around the holidays, we wanted something families and youth could enjoy,” said Wallace, who is in her first year at BHS and has 15 years teaching experience.
If you’re not familiar with “Into the Woods,” it’s a bit different than any musical you’ve ever heard.
“It’s more of a drama but it will definitely have some comedic relief,” Wallace said.
The music and lyrics are by Stephen Sondheim and book was written by James Lapine. The musical intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault fairy tales, exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests.
The main characters are taken from “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Rapunzel” and “Cinderella,” as well as several others.
“Into the Woods” premiered on Broadway in 1987 and was released as a Disney movie in 2014.
BHS cast will be performing the “junior version” because the full version is over three hours long.
Amy Green, musical director, said she is a huge fan of Stephen Sondheim.
She said when the musical first came out, it was a shock to a lot of ears.
“It has odd melodies that at times don’t make when you first listen,” she said. “The music (instrumental accompaniment) is not necessarily playing their parts. It requires the students to be very independent in their singing.”
According to Wallace and Green, it’s been a long time since a musical has been performed on the BHS stage.
“The kids have no experience doing a musical,” Green said. “We will have 23 students on stage and only three or four of them have been on stage before. They are learning to be on stage.”
She said the “woods” is an “allegory for life.”
Going into the woods can be scary, but by doing so you reach your goals, Green said.
Cody Duncan is assisting with the acting.
“We have a lot of tremendous kids involved.
Madison Luval, a senior in the cast who plays the baker’s wife, said, “It’s really fun. I’ve never done anything like this before.”
“Into the Woods” will be performed in the BHS Auditorium on Saturday, Nov. 16, at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 17, at 2 p..m.
Admission is free.
The musical is tied together by a story involving a childless baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family (the original beginning of The Grimm Brothers’ “Rapunzel”), their interaction with a witch who has placed a curse on them, and their interaction with other storybook characters during their journey.
The musical debuted in San Diego at the Old Globe Theatre in 1986 and premiered on Broadway on November 5, 1987, where it won several Tony Awards, including Best Score, Best Book, and Best Actress in a Musical (Joanna Gleason), in a year dominated by The Phantom of the Opera (1988). The musical has since been produced many times, with a 1988 US national tour, a 1990 West End production, a 1997 tenth anniversary concert, a 2002 Broadway revival, a 2010 London revival,[1] and in 2012 as part of New York City’s outdoor Shakespeare in the Park series.
A Disney film adaptation directed by Rob Marshall and starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski and Johnny Depp was released in 2014. The film grossed over $213 million worldwide, and received three Academy Award nominations and three Golden Globe Award nominations.